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Spring play examines social injustice

Staged by the School of Creative Arts at the USF Performing Arts Center in April, “To Kill a Mockingbird” poignantly examined the central themes of justice and social responsibility from the viewpoint of Scout, a young girl thrust by circumstance into a ring-side seat at a kangaroo court.

In the emotionally-charged courtroom and town scenes, prejudices regarding people of color and other “mockingbirds,” those of peace who may simply appear differently or possess less, repeatedly surfaced for inspection.

As the thinking of Scout and her brother Jem broadened in the course of the play, so did their understanding of their older, bookish father—another “mockingbird” of sorts. Seen initially as different and of no impact compared to the laborer fathers of their classmates, Atticus emerged as the standard-bearer for right thinking in the understanding of his children, as they began the perilous and enlightening journey toward adulthood.

The children’s preconceived notions about reclusive neighbor, Boo Radley, also underwent transformation.

Local actor and USF familiar Brad Beauchamp directed the stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, and commented about his choice of the piece.

“When I look at how this story of lost innocence and coming of age powerfully prods us to examine such topics, I return to Atticus’s response to Jem when Jem asks how the jury could have convicted Tom Robinson: ‘I don’t know how, but they did it. They’ve done it before, and they did it today, and they’ll do it again and when they do it—seems like only children weep.’

“We’ve done it before, we do it today, and we will do it again. And when we do, my hope is this story makes each of us a little more like Atticus: a little more tolerant, a little more understanding and a little more willing to stand up and cry out at injustice,” Beauchamp said.

Check out the “To Kill a Mockingbird” photo gallery

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